Against a de-politicized DIY urbanism: Food Not Bombs and the struggle over public space

David Spataro

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Spataro, D. (1). Against a de-politicized DIY urbanism: Food Not Bombs and the struggle over public space. Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, 9(2), 185–201.

DIY Urbanism , Public Space , Social Movements , Tactical Urbanism , Urban Politics

The popularity and impact of the High Line in New York mirrors the complex reality of contemporary provision of public space. The development of the project, its relation- ship to its surroundings and the evolving trend of elevated parks are analyzed in relation to the role of urban green space and impacts of Landscape Urbanism. The High Line shows the way to a new role for urban green space by utilizing abandoned infrastructure. In analysing the narrative of the High Line, this article stresses the importance of understanding localities and connectivity. Based on observations as well as a review of the literature and media, the article concludes that great landscaping does not create great places without careful consideration of the surrounding community and residents.

Main finding
The article argues that neoliberal urbanization has been the redevelopment of public spaces to better facilitate forms of private property nearby but the primary spatial logic has been to exclude publics that outwardly signal “disorder” such as FNB. The article suggests that in cities marked by immense class, race, and gender inequalities, a politicized version of tactical urbanism, or DIY urbanism that allows for direct action tactics is preferred over a de-politicized tactical urbanism that devalues citizen tactics to reclaim public space.

Description of method used in the article
Alternative framework for tactical urbanism based in critical approaches to neoliberal urban space and the spatial tactics of movements for social justice and its application to a case study of Food Not Bombs (FNB).

Policy implications

Organising categories